The films of David Cronenberg

While most films are about the changes that take place to a character or characters over a period of time, David Cronenberg's movies rarely restrict the alterations to the psychological or emotional. In almost every case, his heroes/heroines change physically, becoming mutated and abnormal, usually with tragic consequences - the mortality rate of his leading stars is closer to 100% than any other director.

The key phrase for Cronenberg's films is 'body horror'; the threat comes from within, rather than being an external threat as in monster movies. "My films are very body conscious", he said once and it can't be denied that biological change is the most pervasive themes in his work - others include the breakdown of civilization, sexual deviation and disease). The causes of the mutations may be divided into two groups:

Self-induced psychological

Artificially induced physical

These aren't clear-cut - a case could be made for putting Videodrome in the first section, as the film provides no evidence that Max Renn's experiences are really happening. However, the tumour initially responsible for the hallucinations is artificially induced, though it could be considered minor compared to the massive 'mutations' which follow. Anyway, it offends my sense of order to have unequal halves!

Similarly, the physical/psychological barriers become blurred; mental problems slop over into the physical world in The Brood and Scanners, and the reverse is true in Videodrome. Although the modifications generally prove ultimately disastrous, it's often the case that the sufferer/mutant can live with them initially, until an outside agency decides to interfere.

See also:
  • Other David Cronenberg reviews

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